Texas requests mortuary trailers amid COVID-19 surge

The state asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for five mortuary trailers in anticipation of an increase in deaths.

As a surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the state of Texas, the state’s Department of Health Services has submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for five mortuary trailers in anticipation of an increase in deaths. 

According to CBS Austin, the trailers will be stored in San Antonio due to its central location. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the request is “a normal part of preparedness to have these available to support local jurisdictions in case they need them.” Officials noted that no city or county has yet requested one. 

Low-level inmates in Texas prepare to load bodies wrapped in plastic into a refrigerated temporary morgue trailer in a parking lot of the El Paso County Medical Examiner’s office. On Saturday, the Lone Star State’s department of health reported more than 20,000 new cases of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Lone Star State’s department of health reported more than 20,000 new cases of COVID-19. 

Despite the rising cases of COVID-19 in his state, Governor Greg Abbott has been aggressively banning governmental entities, including school districts, from requiring mask wearing. On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court sided with Abbott and blocked mask mandates in San Antonio and Dallas that sought to defy the governor’s executive order. 

(From left) Texas pharmacist Gabriel Balonwu, Dr. Hossein Tcharmtchi and pharmacist Ngozi Anaduaka prepare COVID-19 vaccine doses at a clinic for 12- to 15-year olds in the center of West University. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Michael Hinojosa, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, said he will continue to keep the mask mandate in place. 

“As that order was issued, it applied to Dallas County only,” Hinojosa told CNN. “School districts were not mentioned in the order. My name was not mentioned in the order, and contrary to what the AG tweeted out, a tweet is not an order. He said that it applied to us, but it does not.” 

Hinojosa was responding to a tweet from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who wrote, “Breaking: TX Supreme Court sides with the rule of law. Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co & Dallas ISD to follow Exec. Order GA-38. Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38. Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands.” 


Hinojosa contends that he will reexamine his stance if the court specifies his district. He added that 95% of parents in his district support his mask mandate. 

The school district leader said he has also received support from the White House. Hinojosa said that he got a long voicemail from President Joe Biden, who thanked him “for having the courage to stand up for our students and our community.”

The Texas Tribune notes that the many court battles surrounding mask mandates in the state have left many Texans confused. 

“For reasons that I can’t fathom,” attorney Doug Alexander said, “the governor and the attorney general are hell-bent on tying the arms of all governmental entities from doing exactly what the physicians on the front lines are telling them they must do to stop the surging pandemic.”

The governor’s office says its position is clear.

“Any confusion stems from local officials violating the governor’s executive order in their attempt to restrict the rights and freedoms of Texans,” Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said in a statement. “Every Texan has a right to choose for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, or get vaccinated.”

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